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UK: “56% unaware how to apply overseas”

Major student website The Student Room has called for a centralised international application system in the UK to encourage more British students to study abroad, along with better information about universities overseas. The call follows a survey of 1,141 students which found 72% were interested in studying at a university abroad, but some 56% were unaware of how to apply.

The University of Amsterdam is seeing rising interest from British students looking to study abroadThe University of Amsterdam is seeing rising interest from British students looking to study abroad

A more radical option would be a centralised application system such as UCAS

Kailan D’Arcy, marketing and communications manager at the Student Room, told The PIE News: “There needs to be better awareness of international universities… There are a lot of touch points where students are looking for information and only being told about UK universities by careers advisors or when they’re going through the UCAS system.”

In total, 86% of British students surveyed said they felt there was not enough information available to help them with the process of studying abroad and D’Arcy said more needed to be done to make students “commit”, including stronger marketing drives and providing more information for students at school age.

The UK ranks just 25th in the world for the number of students studying abroad

A more radical option would be a centralised application system such as UCAS through which students could apply to foreign universities and be made aware of study abroad options earlier on the application process. Currently only China and Sweden are known to run such a system for inbound international students (KUCAS in China).

“The UCAS system saves students a lot of time having to ring round and apply to universities separately, it’s all in one place,” said D’Arcy. “But there isn’t something like that for international universities abroad. If you want to apply to universities abroad you have to spend a lot of time on the internet. It’s quite an old fashioned way of doing it really.”

The UK ranks just 25th in the world for the number of students studying abroad and just 1% of those participating in the Erasmus programme are British.

However, with home fees now capped at £9,000, many more UK students are considering education abroad, with countries such as the Netherlands and Germany gaining in appeal. Earlier this year the universities minister, David Willetts, announced a fees discount for UK students who take part in a university exchange programme of at least two terms – an added incentive for students and universities to engage in exchange.

The Student Room survey found other important factors driving UK students to go abroad were a foreign institution’s academic reputation (79% rated it very important) and the standard of living (76%) in a country.

English being the dominant language in a country was only a ‘very important’ factor for 57% of respondents

The most desirable study destinations were North America followed by Western Europe, Australasia, Northern Europe and Southern Europe.

Surprisingly, English being the dominant language in a country was only a ‘very important’ factor for 57% of respondents.

“There’s a huge amount you can learn from studying abroad and immersing yourself in a different language and culture. If students had the knowledge of how easy it is to do it I think we’d be seeing a lot more actually committing to study abroad,” said D’Arcy.

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